Romney v Huckabee for the Soul of the GOP

>> Saturday, August 16, 2008

Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee emerged from the GOP nomination process as the leaders of their respective GOP factions. Huckabee represents the social conservatives. He aspires to speak for the evangelicals, who reportedly make up 25% of the electorate. Romney represents the business side of the GOP. He is the consummate executive and as a former CEO is the GOP’s possible poster boy for someone to fix the economy. These two factions are warring for the chance to have someone from their camp land as the McCain VP and the fight has major long-term implications for the party.

The GOP really needs to find its soul. As a governing party, the Republicans have been an abject failure when measured by legitimate metrics, like how well America is doing. The aggressive hawk faction of the party is represented by McCain and they are not going be in ascendancy after the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. McCain is not the long-term face of the GOP and the field after him is not especially impressive. The current successor to McCain is likely to be Mitt Romney. This is not something that the social conservative wing likes or can accept.

As speculation heats up about the possibility that Sen. John McCain might pick former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney as his running mate, Huckabee is pooh-poohing the idea.

"The issue is that, in many ways, Mitt Romney has had very definite swings of position, not just on one or two things, but on many of the issues," Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, said on Fox News today.

"I think that there are better choices for Sen. McCain that will have the approval of values voters," he added.

It is a regular occurrence that those who come in second for the GOP in primary battles get the next shot at the top of the ticket. Regean, Bush 41, and McCain are examples of this. Thus placing Romeny as the VP slots him in line for the next time following McCain.

The value voters that Huckabee is representing are in a tough spot. For the first time in a long time, they could be looking at being shoved out of the halls of power. A McCain Romney ticket would feature two people who are not committed to a Jerry Fallwell/Pat Robertson Christian Conservative point of view. At most, they would be paying lip service to retain those voters. McCain would like to make a run at Michigan and sure up his economic and domestic policy cred. Placing Romney on the ticket would make sense from that point of view. McCain would then rely on the fact that those same voters loathe Obama. McCain believes they have nowhere to go except into his corner because they cannot stand Obama.

Romney also makes sense in that to regain the possibility of winning on a national scale the GOP will have to revisit what it wants in its candidates. We see that the CC voters who are only strong in the south are getting squeezed out. For example,

"Huckabee is the leader of what I call the Taliban wing of the party," said Patterson, who has supported Romney, a native Michiganian. "They would rather lose on some self-defined principle than put someone on the ticket who is honorable and would bring strength to the ticket."

That principle is abortion. McCain made some brief waves when it was floated in an outreach session that his VP might not be inline with the CC on abortion but only on gay rights. It really set of the CC wing of the party. James Muffett, head of Michigan’s Citizens for Traditional Values, joined McCain for a meeting on Wednesday night.

To select a running mate who supports abortion rights would be “wrong-headed, short-sighted, fracture the Republican Party and not allow us to capitalize on the Democratic Party’s fracture right now,” Muffett argued.

“If he does that, it makes our job 100 times harder. It would dampen enthusiasm at a time when evangelicals are looking for ways to gin up enthusiasm.”
McCain, Muffett said, got that message in their meeting.

“Some people in the movement say it would be the kiss of death. He heard that in the room last night.”

The CC are especially worried about losing power on the right because there are increasing numbers of evangelicals including young evangelicals who are looking to move away from focusing only on what Christians should be against. This group is more interested in Global warming and Global poverty as well as HIV/Aids work. Led by Pastors like Rick Warren head of the 22,000-member Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif and the Mathew 25 network they are looking to be less partisan and that means less Republican. They would draw members away and lessen the power of the CC inside the GOP.

All of this is going on as Justice John Paul Stevens is 88 years old. The possibility of swinging the court to the conservative side for the next several generations is tantalizing for the CC movement. It is their dream and they want to accomplish it while they still can and before the power they have accumulated wanes. So Huckabee and his backers will fight and cajole and threaten to make sure that the VP pick by John McCain firs squarely into their camp and is not the person of Mitt Romeny.


O-le,O-le, O-le, O-le! O-le, O-le!

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